Panatag Shoal: from fishing ground to solid military ground

 

We all have heard of Panatag Shoal or most commonly known as Scarborough Shoal at the height of the South China Sea (SCS) territorial dispute when China unequivocally closed off the shoal from Filipino fishermen in 2012.

The shoal off the coast of Zambales lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and as such fishermen from this coastal region consider the shoal their fishing ground since time immemorial.

The shoal became even determinedly for the Filipinos when the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruled the granting of 200 nautical miles (approximately 370 km) EEZ for island nations, which in reality exceeds the distance compared to where Panatag Shoal is which is only 119 nautical miles (approximately 220 km) west of Zambales.

With the ascendancy , however, of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency, and especially after he made a state visit to China’s President Xi Jinping in October 2016, the strained relationship between the two countries got better and the Filipino fishermen were allowed access to the rich fishing ground again.

We were hoping that this kind of access to the fishing ground was granted for good and for humanitarian reason especially that Duterte did not and has not in any way agreed or concurred with the international arbitral tribunal ruling favoring the Philippines in its maritime case against China.

Suffice to say that Duterte, like the leadership of China, ignored the arbitral ruling and, in fact, supported China’s continued island building and militarization of the area even as it was being built at our own backyard already.

Seemingly doing China a favor Duterte made it known that he wanted China’s patronage in return to jump-start the development of the country, thus, the pouring in of cash from China today.

But what is disheartening now, if not alarming, is that China has decided to convert Panatag Shoal, yes, the rich fishing ground belonging to the Philippines, into a solid military ground, just like the others, where it plans to build environmental monitoring stations, whatever that means.

If this is not a classic case of ‘giving them a hand and they will take an arm’ or ‘giving them an inch and they will take a mile’, I don’t know what is.

But what is worse is that the military build-up, for how else would one describe it, can be found at our turf!

I had been supportive of Duterte and even in his stand that if the most powerful country in the world was not able to stop China from militarizing the SCS, who are we to halt them?

I hope Duterte this time realizes that our generosity, if not our naivete, is being taken advantaged to the hilt by his more calculating, wily and farsighted Chinese counterpart.

What is disturbing and frightening is that when push comes to shove between two powerful contending nations having a stake in this part of the globe, the Philippines is right there included in the cross-hair of China’s enemy.

There is definitely no if and buts about it.

Robredo UN message slanders the Philippines

 

Vice President Leni Robredo

Some Filipinos might think that Vice President Leni Robredo was doing the country a big favor when she video-taped a message, supposedly coming from the Office of the Vice President, and sent it to the 60th annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria.

I actually wrote about this already and you can read it at this link https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/robredos-palit-ulo-allegations/.

The reason why I am writing about this again is simply to show you another interesting link that also criticizes the way Robredo painted an image of the country under the Duterte administration generalizing the belief that the Filipinos now feel “hopeless and helpless” because of the president’s bloody war on drugs.

This link is a good read and an excellent rejoinder of Robredos’s scandalous remarks: http://politics.com.ph/ex-unga-delegate-slams-robredo-misrepresenting-pinoys/.

Many Filipinos, however, think that Robredo’s slander was short of saying that the Philippines is in bad shape and in dire need of help, which is just actually the opposite of where we are today – in the verge of growing and developing faster and optimistic of the future, thanks to the unconventional leadership style of Duterte.

I consider therefore the entirety of Robredo’s message as fake news, at best, and, at worst, a self-serving communication that she is trying to take advantage of because of her sinking credibility and her inadequacy and ineffectiveness as vice president.

Unless Robredo can prove that the extrajudicial killings are state sanctioned and the ridiculous “palit-ulo” scheme exist, then she has got nothing but alternative facts.

That there is now a plan to impeach her because she derided the Philippines in the international scene is good news.

I will not doubt that she is also being used and manipulated by her party mates to advance their political agenda, but the Filipino people had had enough of their inept and corrupt political culture that the change and reforms Duterte is implementing in government is a very much welcomed development.

I am just including here the video Robredo sent for your information and evaluation.

MEP’s meddling an utter rudeness

 

The European Parliament

I am actually referring to the arrogance and brazenness of some Members of the European Parliament (MEP) who are meddling in the political affairs of the Philippines, a sovereign country at that, by filing a resolution calling for the release of Sen. Leila de Lima and quashing the drug charges against her.

If this is not a blatant show of superiority complex, I don’t know how else to interpret it.

Let me just qualify what I mean by superiority complex. Surely, it is not about intellectual superiority, nor in terms of integrity and morality, but this pompous and imperious bunch of people think they belong to a superior race because they come from a much developed country and they are white.

That is all there is to it and they think that because they are the high and mighty, that they have the ascendancy, the authority, nay, the ‘sovereign obligation’, to bully and lecture us about justice.

Justice my ass! Justice for de Lima?

But of course justice has been done, and where she finds herself now is the kind of justice that she deserves.

And they don’t have to worry about her safety. She definitely is in good hands. She has to be because the Filipino people would really like to see how the de Lima saga ends, if only to prove that indeed she was deeply entrenched in the drug activities.

This bunch of swaggering and pontificating MEPs think that it was all the time fine and dandy and much better in the Philippines before Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte got voted to the presidency.

I am sure de Lima saw what was coming to her after she won a slot in the senatorial race allegedly with the help of drug money, and seeing, too, that Duterte captured the presidency.

De Lima must have felt sorry in hindsight that she was not able to gather enough evidence to prove that Duterte was behind the much ballyhooed killings in Davao while the latter was the mayor and the former as chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and thence Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

What de Lima is getting is payback time from Duterte, after what he went through being falsely accused and humiliated by her.

Now the table is turned against de Lima and for the information of the MEPs, this is a welcome development for the country.

Duterte’s relentless and bloody war against illegal drugs, not to mention criminality and corruption, is giving most Filipinos hope that under his leadership the Philippines will grow and develop faster.

In fact Duterte’s brand of leadership for many is a breath of fresh air, even with the alleged extrajudicial killings brouhaha, but, unfortunately, the meddling of the MEPs is fouling the atmosphere somehow.

 

Robredo’s “palit-ulo” allegations

 

Vice President Leni Robredo

It is unfortunate, if not saddening, that Vice President Leni Robredo, a lawyer, has gone down to the gutter-level of attacking and debasing President Rodrigo Duterte about some serious allegation which has still to be proven by her.

While Duterte has recently absolved Robredo of being a party to a destabilization campaign being waged against him, the fact remains, however, that the vice president is spearheading the opposition group that is very vocal against the president’s bloody war on illegal drugs that has cost thousands of lives already.

It is in this context that Robredo newly and publicly revealed a new heinous scheme called “palit-ulo”, literally translated as “exchange heads/swap heads”, being employed by the government operatives in the slums or poverty-stricken areas when searching for persons of interest involved in illegal drugs.

Robredo elaborated this by completing the story, saying, “They (communities) told us of the ‘palit-ulo’ scheme which means ‘exchange heads’ where the wife, husband or relative in a so-called drug list will be taken if the person himself could not be found.”

This unconfirmed and unsubstantiated story, while prejudicial and damaging to President Duterte, has actually been recorded and scheduled to be played at the 60th annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria.

Robredo’s message obviously did not sit well with Malacañang as Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella immediately issued the following statements:

“Eight months into our campaign against illegal drugs, Vice President Robredo, suddenly refers to an alleged ‘palit-ulo’ scheme – which she mistakenly describes as substituting a relative for a missing drug personality.”

“While she has the right to speak freely on matters of public concern, she also has the responsibility to be careful with her statements especially avoiding unfounded allegations from questionable sources.”

While Abella admits the existence of a “palit-ulo scheme”, he explained, however, that this game plan involves “a commitment of a drug suspect to provide assistance in the arrest of a ‘bigger fish’ in the illegal drug syndicate”, which could earn the former a plea for lighter charges.

That is all there is to it, but having said that, Robredo has still to justify or prove that indeed an actual swapping of heads occurred.

Now I am wondering if Bongbong Marcos would have been a better vice president.

Benham Rise issue – Part III

 

I have no choice but to designate this article as Part III since I have already written about Benham Rise twice some years back which you can read at this links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/philippines-pin-hopes-on-benham-rise/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/thank-god-for-benham-rise-part-ii/

Never had I anticipated writing about it again until I heard the recent alarming and disturbing news that a Chinese survey ship was spotted at the Benham Rise location.

“We are concerned about the presence of a Chinese ship in Benham Rise, which has been recognized by the United Nations as part of the Philippines,” said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella in a statement on Friday, March 10.

“The Department of National Defense has already notified the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding this matter as we continue to assert our sovereignty over our territory,” he added.

Of course we should, forcefully and explicitly!

The Benham Rise area definitely does not have any stupid Chinese historical claim of any sort like they had been asserting they have at the West Philippine Sea just because it is part of the larger body of water bearing the name South China Sea (SCS).

On the pretext that China was “looking for a place to put submarine”, as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said was the info he got, the most likely reason would be that they have chosen the area for their oceanographic research because they just want to confirm if indeed the unimaginable wealth and extent in mineral resources and gas deposits found underneath Benham Rise truly exist.

I cannot blame President Rodrigo Duterte for pussyfooting with the Chinese in the West Philippine Sea issue, where even the country’s territorial integrity has been breached with China’s nine- dash line claim.

If the most powerful country and the acclaimed top ‘policeman’ in the world- the US, and the UN, through its agency the UNCLOS, were not able to stop China from expanding and militarizing the SCS, who are we to prevent China’s hegemony of the contested areas?

But what I am just saying here is that we had been hearing Duterte declaring time and again that he will die defending the country and the Filipino people from the enemies that will try to destroy them.

Well this is it!

There has not been and there will never be a greater challenge such as this one in Duterte’s presidency that needs more of his grit, determination and resolve to stand up for his country and people.

Duterte could not afford anymore to be complacent the way he has been pleased and gratified at the financial and technical help China has promised to give for many infrastructure projects for the country.

China may have bamboozled us in the SCS and there was nothing that we can do. In that part of the globe what is China’s is China’s and what is ours is still China’s

Duterte and those that will follow him should be reminded that at Benham Rise what legally belongs to the Philippines is for the Filipinos and for the generations of Filipinos to come and not to China or any other exploitative country that intends to not only hold us by the balls, but stick it to us as well.

 

‘Balls’ of steel

 

ballsThat is what this gongfu (kung fu) master has literally – ‘balls’ of steel!

I thought man’s family jewels (testicles) were the weakest and fragile part of man’s body that would bring one to his knees with wrenching pain once it gets hit.

Every male, one time or another, must have experienced the excruciating pain felt following a direct hit! You can ask a boxer who has been at the receiving end of a low blow.

Until I saw this video I did not have the faintest idea that there was such a training that would turn this vulnerable part of man’s body into an unsusceptible ‘balls’ of steel or iron crotch.

Check this link out about Master Wei Yaobin and his followers and if you are a male person I am sure you will keep on grimacing at every blow that hits its mark!

But what i found painfully funny are the self-flagellations!

http://news.asiaone.com/news/asia/move-over-ip-man-meet-iron-crotch-man

Presidential emergency powers needed to speed up infra projects

 

President Rodrigo Duterte with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua

President Rodrigo Duterte with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua

There never has been such a propitious time to embark on a challenging and costly infrastructure projects that will benefit the country and its people, most specifically in solving the traffic crisis in the country, than it is today.

We should all realize that the country’s population is getting bigger by the year and we can also say that the economy is getting better, but the downside of all these is that the cities’ main thoroughfares are clogging up with private and public transport vehicles, not to mention the continued existence of the ubiquitous jeepneys, and these pathetic sights all over the country are making the people, from students to employees, more stressful and less productive.

Understandably, there have been government projects geared towards improving the flow and plight of people but, sadly, it always ended up in failures because of incompetence, corruption and the scandalous one of all, politics.

I say it is propitious time now because not only do we have an incorruptible leader who wants to see the country move forward, but we also have China that believes in President Rodrigo Duterte’s hard-nosed style of governance and whom it could trust to put into good use the billions of dollars of loan that the giant country is helping us with for the various infrastructure projects needed.

But for these projects to be expeditiously realized Congress must grant Duterte emergency powers, which the latter actually requested in his SONA last July 2016, to solve the traffic dilemma the country is experiencing today.

No less than Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua expressed support for the granting of emergency powers to Duterte, saying, “There is as very strong sense of urgency. As you know, infrastructure projects cannot be done overnight. They usually take years to finish, and given the fact that the presidential term is only six years, so we must hurry. We have to get it done within the presidential term. We are quite afraid of taking up projects that go beyond the presidential term because that would mean a lot of challenges and uncertainties.”

“I hope President Duterte can get his emergency power as soon as possible. Without the emergency power, I think the big infrastructure projects — the process is going to be very slow, particularly with regard to the rehabilitation or the land issue, so we might be stuck there,” he added.

What the Chinese ambassador actually meant are the facilitation of the right-of-way disputes and other hindrances that may be contentious and detrimental to the proposed projects.

In the process we could not discount questions coming from skeptics asking whether or not the Chinese-funded infrastructure projects in the country is a reward for Duterte not making a big fuss over China’s island building and militarization of the South China Sea (SCS), despite a favorable decision by an international tribunal negating China’s nine-dash-line claim.

Well, you tell me, what else could be done with China, now established in the area?  Who are we to be confrontational with China when the most powerful country in the world could not even prevent China from expanding in the SCS?

Beggars cannot be choosy and if having China for a neighbor is the fastest way to develop the country, then so be it. Better this way than to find ourselves in their cross-hair.

Talking about charting our own destiny!